For the past two years, licensed hairdresser Christie Blom of Danbury’s Christie and Co. has been volunteering her time and skills to make Regional Hospice patients look and feel their very best by providing haircuts, styles, and manicures. Here, she shares her story about what volunteering means to her.
How did you find out about Regional Hospice?
“The Volunteer department approached my salon, asking if any of our hairdressers would be interested in volunteering services. It hit me, because my mother was taken care of by hospice before she passed away and so I was like ‘absolutely’. I couldn’t wait to help and pay back for all that they did for us.”
What has volunteering done for you?
“Every Monday, I visit the Center for Comfort Care and Healing to cut hair and do nails for any patients who request to see me. I do whatever I can to make them feel their best. It’s very rewarding. People ask me all the time, ‘how do you do that?’ or they say, ‘I couldn’t possibly do that.’ I look at each patient as simply my client, and it’s nice to make them feel good. There’s something about getting your hair done that makes people happier. It cheers them up. I feel like I’m making a difference in patients’ lives.”
Do you have any particularly memorable experiences?
“There was one patient that I got very close to. She was awesome—she got a purple streak dyed in her hair. She was an older lady and she was very proper, so it was kind of funny when she wanted this purple stripe, but we did it. She used to volunteer a lot of her time, which even continued directly from her room in the Center for Comfort Care and Healing. She was very inspiring.
There was also another patient who I was immediately drawn to. She had pancreatic cancer, like my mother did, so we connected very quickly. It was great knowing these two incredible women.”
Does hairdressing help you connect with the patients?
“Yes, because I’m a different person to converse with. I’m not a nurse, asking ‘how are you feeling?’ When it’s your hairdresser, you just make small talk and general conversation. You get to know people on a very personal level, and you end up hearing the most interesting stories!”
Have you had positive experiences with other volunteers and staff members?
“Without a doubt. The people who work at Regional Hospice are amazing. The volunteers, nurses, CNAs and other staff make the lives of patients the best they can be. It’s pretty unforgettable. If you can spend the end your life in such an amazing environment, with so much love from the people around you, it’s a gift.”
What would you say to prospective volunteers?
“I would recommend getting involved. Regional Hospice depends on volunteers to run. People think you come here and it’s nothing but sadness. But it’s not. In most cases, people are in great moods when you walk in their rooms. People are talking and chatting, and you forget the reason why we’re all here. If people come in and visit our Center, they will see what a bright and vital environment it is.
Do you see there were misconceptions about what hospice is like?
“Definitely. It’s not sad or gloomy. Patients are cared for so lovingly. They’re comfortable and they’re happy. How could you want anything more for them?”
Inspired by Christie’s story? Want to give back? Fill out a volunteer application, donate or attend one of our events.
Reporting and writing by Ekaterina Taylor-Yeremeeva